Port of Rotterdam Teams Up with IBM to Build Smart Port of the Future


The Port of Rotterdam Authority and IBM have joined forces on a multi-year digitization initiative to transform the port’s operational environment using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

The initiative will also prepare the Port of Rotterdam’s entire 42-kilometer site to host connected ships in the future. It begins with the development of a centralized dashboard application that will collect and process real-time data. The port expects the initiative will enable a new wave of safer and more efficient traffic management at the port.

“Here in Rotterdam, we are taking action to become the smartest port in the world, Paul Smits, Chief Financial Officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said.

“Speed and efficiency is essential to our business, and requires us to use all of the data available to us. Thanks to real-time information about infrastructure, water, air, etc., we can enormously improve the service we provide to everyone who uses the port, and prepare to embrace the connected, autonomous shipping of the future.”

As the largest port in Europe, the Port of Rotterdam handles over 461 million tonnes of cargo and more than 140,000 vessels annually. Previously the port relied on traditional radio and radar communication between captains, pilots, terminal operators, tugboats and more to make key decision on port operations.

Now, as the Port of Rotterdam begins its digital transformation, sensors are being installed across 42-kilometers of land and sea – spanning from the City of Rotterdam into the North Sea – along the Port’s quay walls, mooring posts and roads.

These sensors will gather multiple data streams including water (hydro) and weather (meteo) data about tides and currents, temperature, wind speed and direction, water levels, berth availability and visibility.


“This data will be analyzed by IBM’s cloud-based IoT technologies and turned into information that the Port of Rotterdam can use to make decisions that reduce wait times, determine optimal times for ships to dock, load and unload, and enable more ships into the available space. For example, the Port of Rotterdam will now be able to predict the best time based on water level, to have a ship arrive and depart Rotterdam, ensuring that the maximum amount of cargo is loaded on board,” the port authority added.

With the new initiative, Port of Rotterdam operators will also be able to view the operations of all the different parties at the same time, making that process more efficient. In fact, it is estimated that shipping companies and the port stand to save up to one hour in berthing time which can amount to about USD 80,000 in savings.

The Port of Rotterdam added it was working with IBM, Cisco and Axians to uncover other innovative applications of IoT and artificial intelligence.

Image Courtesy: Port of Rotterdam

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